May 20, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - New Washington State men's basketball coach Paul Graham has completed his staff with the hiring of assistant Gary Stewart, a four-time California NCAA Division III coach of the year.
The Pasadena, Calif., native who was honored in 1990, 1991 and 1993 as the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coach of the year while at the University of La Verne, and the 1997 Northern California Athletic Conference coach of the year while at Cal State Hayward, joined Graham's staff on Thursday.
"Gary Stewart comes highly recommended as both a person and a basketball coach," Graham said. "He is known and respected in the coaching community and is very well-connected in the areas we need to recruit."
Stewart, 37, played his collegiate ball at La Verne after graduating from Pasadena's Blair High School. He graduated from La Verne in 1984 as arguably the best player in school history; he ranks in the career top 10 in virtually every statistical category. Stewart led the Leopards to three SCIAC championships and was named the 1984 University of La Verne sportsman of the year. He was also a two-time Academic All-American.
Following his graduation, Stewart became an assistant coach at Long Beach State and spent two seasons with the 49ers until his alma mater came calling in 1987. At the age of 24, Stewart was named the youngest head coach of a four-year institution in the United States. In his eight seasons at La Verne, he led the Leopards to their first-ever NCAA tournament, with an appearance in the Division III Sweet 16.
Not only was Stewart a three-time SCIAC coach of the year, but he was also recognized by the city of La Verne in 1993 for outstanding achievement. He compiled a 125-82 overall record at La Verne, where he earned his masters degree in 1995.
Stewart moved north to Cal State Hayward to coach the Pioneers in 1995-96 and 1996-97. In two years, he turned the CSUH program around, taking the Pioneers from a last place finish the year before he arrived to the NCAC conference championship in 1997. During that season, CSUH went 18-10 and was ranked third among all Division III schools in points allowed per game.
Stewart also served as an associate athletic director at Cal State Hayward and taught at both CSUH and La Verne.
The latest addition to the WSU staff left Cal State Hayward following the 1996-97 season to return to the Division I ranks as an assistant at UC Santa Barbara. He supervised the Gauchos' academic program and achieved a 73 percent graduation rate -- highest in the Big West Conference.
"This is truly an exceptional opportunity to work on Paul's staff, to work at Washington State, to work in the Pac-10," Stewart said. "I've followed the program for years. Washington State has a lot to offer a student-athlete."
"Obviously, there is some uniqueness to recruiting a student-athlete to Pullman, but that's true in just about every situation," Stewart added. "You can't worry about what you can't control. What I do know is that anything that's worth something has challenges and obstacles to overcome."
The Stewart File
Assistant Coach, UC Santa Barbara, 1997-98
Head Coach, Cal State Hayward, 1995-97
Head Coach, University of La Verne, 1987-95
Assistant Coach, Long Beach State, 1984-86
University of La Verne, 1980-84
University of La Verne (bachelor's degree in physical education, 1984)
University of La Verne (master's degree in physical education, 1995)